I hold my hand up, and watch the millipede curl around my ring finger, the dull, metallic grey broken by slivers of deep orange between the segments. The heat inside the car is stifling, but without the keys I can't open the windows.
I don't share his belief that there is more dignity in certain ways of dying, but I admit that there is a certain emptiness to inaction. I lean forward between the seats, and with my free hand try the driver's side door again, despite knowing it's broken. At least it affords me the luxury to try, the other three doors stripped of their controls, the holes filled with Bondo.
I let the millipede leave my finger to explore a headrest, and pull myself back to the rear bench seat. I curl on my back, my feet resting on the misshapen door, and stare upwards. The upholstery has separated from the interior of the car's roof, and has been repaired by hammering a large X in brass tacks, a solution unimaginable to a generation that grew up with rain.
The full quarter of the sun has peaked over the horizon, and I can feel the heat on the bottoms of my toes, pressed against the glass. I have maybe thirty minutes, 45 if I can block the windows. I start to root around under the seats, looking for anything that can block the light. I check the rear dash behind me, and notice the center of the seat back shift. I give it a sharp pull, and it folds down, revealing the darkness of the trunk.
I scramble to the front seat, and search below the steering column for anything that could be a trunk release. I find a lever next to the seat, it's markings long worn off, and pull. Behind me a hear a mechanical click and feel the air move for the first time in hours. As I sit up, I notice the millipede, raising itself from the shoulder of the seat, sensing the shift in the environment.
My shoulders barely fit through the opening, and I imagine myself dying stuck, half free and half still trapped, becoming food for the insects. The rough plastic scrapes my skin raw on the sides of my rib cage, instantly stinging from the salt of my sweat. Tasting escape, my mind starts to list secondary concerns, like finding water, clothing, a place to wait out the day until I can start moving again, continuing my ragged path North.
With a final push, my hips are through, and I quickly pull in the rest of my body. I make a glance around the trunk, to see if there is anything worth taking, but it is stripped as bare as the interior. I swing my right leg over back, and almost hear the sizzle as my foot touches the pavement. If I don't find shade soon, this will all have been pointless, though at least I will not have been easy food for the millipede, and whatever else he had left in the car to feed on my bloated corpse.
I ease the rest of my body out of the trunk, and stretch for what feels like the first time in days.
- Drone Story